What To Do When You Lose Your Writing Rhythm

Thursday, April 27, 2017
Do you have a writing rhythm?

I was reading recently about how most writers have a rhythm, and how important it is to move forward and keep plugging away as you work toward your writing goals. You can tell when writers find their rhythm because they have momentum—they’ve finished a manuscript, had their work published, corresponded with editors for assignments, received checks in the mail for reprints, etc.

But what happens when you feel like you’ve lost your writing groove?

It happens to the best of us. As a mom with two active kids, I struggle with balancing their schedules, trying maintain some sort of fitness routine so the butt in chair time doesn’t become too obvious, and completing my freelance editing and writing assignments on time. Throw in things like my recent move into a new house and the writing rhythm is pretty much non-existent. I finally got around to unpacking my desk yesterday, so at least there’s that.

From the outside, it probably doesn’t look like I’ve lost my writing rhythm. None of my editors have fired me, I still have editing and writing projects to work on each day, and my bylines appear in local magazines. But I feel like a failure because I haven’t gotten back to work on any of my manuscripts or worked on any essays or short stories recently. My personal blog is stagnant. Am I just in a writing funk or being too hard on myself?

While researching this topic, I came across an article published a few years ago at Psychology Today. It discussed the writing habits of seven different authors. Some didn’t surprise me (Ernest Hemingway had a goal of 500 words per day) and others were, well, just odd (Truman Capote could only write lying down, holding glass of sherry in one hand a pencil in the other). I thought it over and realized I don’t really have any writing habits, besides drinking lots of coffee, which could be my problem. I love to sleep and don’t want to get up any earlier than my weekday 6:15 a.m. wake-up call and I don’t pencil myself any “creative writing” time on my daily calendar.

So, baby steps. The house is unpacked enough for now. My kids are old enough to help out with chores like the dishes and the laundry (we’re working on food prep next). I’ve shaved about an hour from my driving time by moving closer to my their school. I’m going to start by setting a goal of at least an hour of creative writing time five days a week. This can include revising chapters, brainstorming new book ideas, working on personal essays and short stories, etc. I’ll report back here next month and let you know how it’s going.

How is your writing rhythm? Are you happy with it, or do you see room for improvement? What goals would you like to set to keep your momentum going?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor whose work appears in regional magazines and websites. She loves a good human-interest story but still has dreams of publishing novels for children and teens. 


Mary Horner said...

Good post, Renee. I have many starts and stops and consistency is a goal, but it's not happening at the moment! I feel successful, though, as long as I am connected to writing in some way, and some days that means meeting with my critique group, reading other blogs, or just brainstorming ideas!

LoLo Paige said...

Wish I could put my real life on a shelf until I finish my writing projects. "I love you, seeya in 6 months!" Oh, how I wish.

Angela Mackintosh said...

I think you're being too hard on yourself! Moving is such a huge ordeal and look at all you've been doing--you haven't missed any blog days, you're meeting your freelance deadlines. You'll get back at it. I moved six months ago and it took me about four months to get settled and back to writing. I think scheduling creative writing time and forming a writing ritual are great ideas. I used to write at night but recently switched to waking up early and writing. My crazy husband has been getting up at 3:30am this past month to go surfing before work, so I've been getting up whenever he kisses me on the cheek to leave, about 4:30, and writing for a couple hours. Granted, my writing is not book writing right now, it's mostly essays, scenes, and memory exercises in preparation for a possible memoir, but I feel good that I'm getting something done.

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